By CHARINA L. ECHALUCE
Completing the three doses of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia could protect more or less 600,000 of the over 800,000 children who were vaccinated during the Department of Health’s (DoH’s) immunization drive, former Secretary of Health (SOH) Esperanza Cabral said.
In a health forum at the Manila Hotel, Cabral said allowing the children, who received the first dose, to complete the doses of Dengvaxia could have made a difference.
“Iyong Dengvaxia, ang sinasabi nila three doses; iyong una, pagkatapos after six months isa ulit, after six months isa ulit. At after three full doses ng vaccine, makikita na natin iyong maximum protection,” she explained.
“Kung nakatanggap ka ng isa doon sa tatlong doses ng bakuna, may kaunting proteksyon. Pangalawa, may kaunti ulit.
Pangatlo, iyong pinaka-effective. So kung talagang gusto mong makuha iyong full benefit sa bakuna, kailangan makumpleto iyong tatlo,” she added.
Asked why did some of the vaccinated kids still got dengue infection, Cabral answered, “Ang nangyari kasi riyan, sa unang bakuna mo pa lang ibig sabihin na-expose ka na sa risk doon sa bakuna. Ibig sabihin na-expose ka na sa risk pero hindi mo nakuha iyong full benefit.”
Moreover, Cabral echoed Sanofi’s previous statement, saying that the vaccine gives more protection to those who had prior infection.
“Ngayon ang maximum na sinasabi natin ay hindi 100 percent, kung ‘di 60 percent…. Iyong full benefit na iyon ay nakukuha ng karamihan ng mga tao na previously na-expose na sa dengue. Gaano karami ba iyon? Eighty-seven percent. Sa mga pag-aaral dito sa bansa, sinasabi na 87 percent ang na-expose na sa dengue, hindi lang nagkasakit pero na-expose na sa dengue. So 87 percent ng 800,000, marami-rami rin iyon, mga 600,000 sana ang mabebenipisyuhan nito kung natapos nila ang bakuna,” she said.
Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur has already offered giving free doses to the children who were not able to complete the program.
“If the Department of Health decides to reinstate the community-based dengue vaccination program following a more complete evaluation of the new data on the vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur would be willing to provide new doses of the vaccine free of charge. These new doses would allow people who previously received one or two doses of the vaccine in the public program to complete the three-dose schedule and, thus, have the opportunity to benefit from the full potential of Dengvaxia’s ability to protect against dengue,” the company assured.
The DoH, on the other hand, remained firm on its decision to stop Dengvaxia vaccinations.
“The DoH stands by its decision to stop Dengvaxia vaccinations,” Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said in a text message.